Everyone equal before the law

Last week the Constitutional Court delivered a landmark decision in a dispute involving the Valoyi tribe of Limpopo. I welcome this decision and hope it will strengthen customary laws which discriminate against women.

Last week the Constitutional Court delivered a landmark decision in a dispute involving the Valoyi tribe of Limpopo. I welcome this decision and hope it will strengthen customary laws which discriminate against women.

Our Constitution states clearly that a traditional authority is also responsible for developing customary law. The initial decision by the Valoyi Tribal Authority to instal Ms Shilubana was in line with the Constitution which states that everyone is equal in the eyes of the law and no one may unfairly discriminate, either directly or indirectly, against anyone on the grounds of gender. Both the decision by the high court and the Supreme Court of Appeal undermined the core values of our Constitution - equality, human dignity and freedom - enshrined in the Bill of Rights which is a cornerstone of our democracy and affirms the democratic values of human dignity, equality and freedom.

Our government, South Africans and all private or public institutions must respect, protect, promote and fulfil all the rights in the Bill of Rights. This judgment will send a clear message that women are also entitled to chieftainship unlike in the past when only men ascended the throne.

Lufuno Nevondwe,

Johannesburg

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